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Physio for Back Pain


Published October 27, 2021

Maintaining great posture can feel like an uphill battle at first, especially when we spend so much time sitting down at home or at work. But fighting that battle and keeping your posture in check is rewarding and highly beneficial for your health and well-being.

Here are the benefits plus some simple tips for maintaining good posture:

What Is Good Posture?

Before we dive into the benefits of good posture, what exactly is good posture?

“Good posture is a comfortable position that you can sustain for long periods of time without causing harm to your musculoskeletal system. Good postural position will be different for each person as we all come in different shapes and sizes. There is no ‘one posture fits all’. “

…says Principal Physiotherapist Leslie Trigg at Integrity Physio.

There are a few basics you should be getting right to maintain good posture:

  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Spine straight, but relaxed
  • Weight evenly distributed throughout the body
  • Shoulders relaxed
  • Head up straight and ears above your collarbones

What Causes Bad Posture?

Thanks to gravity, it’s relatively easy to develop bad posture – also known as postural dysfunction. With the natural weight of our head, limbs, and muscles, it’s easy to start giving in to the pressure.

Poor posture is caused by several different habits. Here are the most common to watch out for:

  • Hunching over a screen at work. These days most jobs involve at least some sitting down. Chances are you’re sitting right now. But whether you’re a tractor operator or a high-end lawyer – we all face similar back problems when we sit down for long periods. As the back hunches over, our muscles get used to inefficient ways of working (compensation). This can put your back and neck out of position and cause long-term postural issues down the track.
  • Injuries to the neck, spine, or lower back can cause certain muscles to limit their movement while they recover. However, if the recovery is prolonged, this can lead to muscle weakness over time, and negatively impact your posture.
  • Wearing certain shoes. Indeed, wearing heels or shoes that distribute weight further forward can impact your posture over time.
  • Obesity. Being overweight can be a cause of poor posture if the body is not strong enough to sustain the extra weight. Any extra weight in the belly can cause postural issues of the lower back and hips – especially in older age groups.

What Are The Benefits Of Good Posture?

Good posture is important for living a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. Sure, it might take a bit of work to get there, especially if you’re suffering from pre-existing conditions or muscle weakness. But achieving good posture can seriously change your life for the better. Here are the benefits of good posture.

1. Say Goodbye To Lower Back Pain

Finding a better postural position that suits your spine shape and reduces excessive muscle activation can reduce lower back pain. Long periods sitting or standing while hunched over can cause abnormal stress to the spinal structures, ligaments and muscles. So the more time you spend practicing good posture for you, the better equipped your lower back will be to deal with everyday movements.

2. Improved Strength And Agility

Good posture is critical to optimising strength and agility. Talk to any bodybuilder, gymnast, or athlete and they’ll tell you the same thing – position is key. By keeping your body aligned and balanced, muscles are then able to grow stronger and more symmetrical. This enhances your balance, promotes healthy joints, and improves overall agility and mobility.

3. Reduced Stress Levels

Good posture reduces physical stress levels on the nervous system. Our neural pathways run through the neck and down the spine and optimising posture will reduce compression or irritation resulting from poor posture. Optimising position can also reduce headaches, neck pain, increased stress levels and neurological symptoms such as tingling and numbness.

4. Improved Breathing And Circulation

Take a moment and breathe in and out, as deep as you can. Now try the same while you’re hunched over. You’ll notice a stark difference between how much air you’re able to access. That’s because while we maintain upright posture, our lungs can expand more than if they’re constricted by a slouched or hunched-over position. This also (very importantly) translates to better blood circulation through vital organs.

5. Improved Mental Health

Combine all these benefits of good posture and it’s no surprise that your mental health will be better off. But there’s a more subtle impact of better posture that is self-reinforcing: when you maintain correct posture – you look better, and you’ll feel more confident.

Just look in a mirror and see which version of yourself you prefer – the slouched version or the upright version? By reinforcing this positive self-image you can appreciate your body and your posture so much more.

Tips For Maintaining Good Posture

Proper posture isn’t something we can get installed. It’s often a result of hard work and commitment. But everyone has their starting point, and here are some tips to keep those shoulders relaxed and back comfortably upright:

  1. First up, make sure you’re aware of how to practice good posture: maintaining a neutral position, keeping a comfortably straight back, feet flat on the floor (if you’re sitting down), shoulders relaxed and gently sitting back so the chest is open and free.
  2. Maintaining a regular exercise routine. Maintaining good posture takes strength. It’s therefore important to keep your body as fit and balanced as possible.
  3. Set a reminder on your phone. Once you get over the weirdness, you could find this super helpful, especially if you’re grinding out long days at the office. Make it a friendly reminder just for you.
  4. Invest in the right chair for work. Poor choice of work chair can do a number on your back and overall posture. Make sure your office chair is conducive to your work environment and to your body’s needs.
  5. Adjust your computer monitor to eye level. Ensuring this correct alignment will automatically adjust your posture for the better.
  6. Limit time spent on your device – time to stop hunching over the screen at night and implement some rules about when and where screens are allowed.
  7. Don’t overwork your muscles by constantly trying to maintain the perfect posture. This will only put your postural muscles under unnecessary stress. Remember to give them a break and relax!
  8. Remember, some people’s best posture is not straight upright. We all have a different ideal posture and some people’s backs just aren’t meant to be as straight as others.

Physiotherapy Exercises For Improved Posture

Still feeling like your posture is getting you down? Visiting a physio for back pain and getting a diagnosis is extremely advisable – especially if you’re noticing your posture worsening or pain increasing. At Integrity Physio, our team of highly trained Physiotherapists can give you a diagnosis and get you started on personalised treatment plans and exercises to get your posture back in order.

Give us a call today – we’re ready to help you get your posture back.

Leslie Trigg

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy Leslie Trigg, has over 15 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.